Project Updates

Read about the latest happenings of the Community-led action to replenish and revitalise the health of the Waihi Estuary, Bay of Plenty.


Minutes of AGM Meeting 

The Chairman, Deryck Shaw welcomed everyone to the second Annual General Meeting (AGM) for Wai Kōkopu. He apologised for the delay in holding the AGM noting that there was a delay in receiving the audited annual financial statements and also the adverse weather events and state of emergency that the Government declared for the BoP region meant that it was important to avoid unnecessary travel and hence the meeting was delayed from the originally scheduled date of February 15. 

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The Year in Review – are we making progress – is the health of the catchment improving? 

It has been a little over a year since I became involved in Wai Kōkopu and its great to reflect on our past, present and future journey.  Recently I was sent a newsletter from a leading rural real estate company and the headline article was about regenerative farming.  How times have really changed and with literally every business starting to think about its impact on our environment.  If they aren’t thinking about it, consumers and suppliers are asking questions around product stewardship and what they are doing.

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Low N Farming Transition Field Day Recap

On the 24th of November, 43 farmers and advisors convened at 280 Mystery Valley Road to discuss the challenges and opportunities of low nitrogen farming systems.

James Burke kindly hosted us on a property which he has transitioned from what was heavily cultivated and fertilized maize growing land, to a mixed forage, beef fattening area. He shared his story of how he transitioned the system to become less reliant on synthetic inputs.

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What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Nancy Willems, Environmental consultant at Place Group environmental planning.

Biodiversity is the variety of life on the planet. It includes genes, species, ecosystems, native and non-native plants and animals, and the relationships between them.

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He Waka Eke Noa – A summary of the proposal to Government Phil Journeaux, AgFirst

Need a quick overview of the He Waka Eke Noa proposal? Read the summary of the Proposal to Government written by Phil Journeaux from AgFirst.

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Fish are our friends! Restoring fish passage and habitat in the Waihī catchment

Contributor: Tom Anderson, Wai Kōkopu Restoration Manager

The Waihī Estuary has historically provided tuna (eel) and inanga (whitebait) as a food-source for local people for generations. In the past, the wetlands that used to span from the estuary to upstream of State Highway 2, provided a massive habitat for native fish species to spawn, feed and grow.

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The resource dilemma – Managing self and staff wellbeing

Contributor: Rachel Mudge, Wai Kōkopu Technical Advisor

Most landowners are enthusiastic when describing their passion for the land, the products they produce, and the hard work required to achieving it. Yet, hard work and passion do not protect you from pressures arising from the challenges associated with working in an environment that changes daily.

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Interested in the current state of our rivers and the Little Waihī estuary?

Contributor: Meredith Davis, Wai Kōkopu Water Science Lead

It is common for both E. coli and nitrate movement into waterways to increase as we transition into rainier seasons. E. coli are monitored in waterways to infer the level of faecal contamination present, and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater has set safe swimming limits at <260 E. coli/100ml of water.

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How to create a resilient business in today’s world

Contributor: Sally Lee, Wai Kōkopu Technical Advisor

Farmers and growers are currently faced with a barrage of requirements and uncertainty, not to mention changes in climatic events and other external pressures. This leads to a greater need for our businesses to be more resilient than ever. But what does that mean?

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Know your soil

Understanding and monitoring soil moisture is critical if farmers and growers are to maximise production, reduce water use, and minimise nitrogen losses.

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John Burke, Wai Kōkopu Lighthouse Farmer

People who farm have always been keen observers of the land. It’s a skill that’s essential for responding to the day to day. It’s also essential for preparing for the future. The world is changing fast and farming is needing to change too. Honing our skills to read our landscapes has never been more important than now.

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Environment Farm Planning Approach

Looking forward, all farmers and growers are required to have a Land Environment Plan (LEP) by 2025. Wai Kōkopu sees LEPs as a vital tool to help farmers and growers through a thought process which evaluates the things they are doing with their current property resources. It is hoped LEPs will  also assist in stretch thinking around future practices that will replenish the land and water, while protecting the asset for future generations.

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2021 Highlights

2021 was a big year for the team, our farmers, our community, and our funders. We are proud of what we have achieved together. Every milestone we reached was made possible due to the support and hard work of people wanting to create change for good. 

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Why it’s important to test your drinking water and how we can help

Clean, safe drinking water is obviously a key part of the body’s health and the health of our community. In recent years, concern has been raised about the effects of nitrate (a form of nitrogen) in drinking water on people’s health. 

If you want to make sure your drinking water is safe, contact us today for nitrate testing. You can read more about the importance of testing for nitrate levels

Learn about the importance of testing for nitrate levels

Kiwifruit journal catchment profile

By Alison Dewes
Wai Kokopu is a community organisation with a vision to restore health to the catchment from Rotoiti and Rotoehu, to the Waihi Estuary. The catchment’s four sub-catchments, from largest to smallest are: Pongakawa, Kaikokopu, Wharere, and Lower Catchment (estuary). 

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Carbon forestry resource

By Tom Anderson & John Burke

If you have a farm over 80 hectares, or a dairy farm with a milk supply number, or a cattle feedlot as defined in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, you will need to meet some requirements.
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Leaders do the Right Thing

By Alison Dewes

Most farmers I have been lucky enough to deal with, want to do the right thing and be good stewards. The Tomorrow’s Farms Today group I studied for my MSC, in the Upper Waikato between 2010 and 2014, tried to do the right thing by seeking to understand what farming systems had a lighter footprint – on water, climate, people and animals. Read more here >

Getting started on your Land Environmental Plan

By John Burke, Wai Kōkopu governance group

A Land Environmental Plan (LEP) will likely be required by all farmers and orchardists by 2025. The LEP will need to identify all environmental issues and risks pertaining not just to commercial production but to all land contained within the title boundary and its impact on the immediate and surrounding environment. Read more >


Read about the latest happenings of the Community-led action to replenish and revitalise the health of the Waihi Estuary, Bay of Plenty.

Previous pānui/newsletters

In the Media

Estuary planting project under way

28ha of native forest has been planted across nine farms

A mammoth native planting effort has taken place in one of the Bay’s most polluted catchments to retire marginal grazing land and help protect sensitive waterways

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Carbon-sucking native trees planted in BOP

A mammoth native planting effort has taken place in one of the Bay o Plenty's most polluted catchments to retire marginal grazing land and help protect sensitive waterways.

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Profit from change

When Alison Dewes asks farmers to reassess their environmental plan, she knows she’s asking a lot but can back it up with her own actions.

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Banks urged to step up on land-use change funding

An ex-rural banker and farm environment group trustee is calling on banks to dig deeper to support their farmer clients needing funding to help meet government freshwater standards and offset their farm’s carbon footprint. 
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Let's Look to the landscape

People who farm have always been keen observers of the land. It's a skill thats essential for responding to the day-to-day. Read more >

Dairy Exporter | ENVIRONMENT MULTI-SECTOR EMISSIONS - Joint action required

Multiple-sector farmers have to work with different environmental guidelines on emissions. It’s time for some common approaches. Sheryl Haitana reports. Read more >

Dairy Exporter | ENVIRONMENT MULTI-SECTOR EMISSIONS - Seeking equality of sector rules

A pan-sector Farm Environment Plan that caters for all land use under the same umbrella is the goal of Bay of Plenty catchment group Wai Kōkopu. Wai Kōkopu chair, dairy farmer and orchardist, Andre Hickson, wants to see landowners treated equally and fairly using sound science. Read more >

Recording your history to model your future

Sally Lee has been a skilled FARMAX user for many years, using FARMAX not only for her own farm, but in a consulting capacity as well.  Read more >

No more cows but double the returns

Keeping it simple is the guiding philosophy for Reporoa farmers Euan and Sarah McKnight. They told Steve Searle that it has led to a sustainable and profitable operation. Read more >

$1m upgrade for polluted Bay of Plenty estuary

A badly degraded estuary, that was once the main food bowl for the coastal Bay of Plenty, is set to get a $1 million upgrade.
BayTrust is committing the funds over the next three years to the effort to restore the Te Waihī estuary. Read more >

Te Waihi estuary clean up ideas sought

Wai Kokopu, made up of tangata whenua, landowners, environmental care groups, Maori agribusiness, residents and ratepayers, is committed to replenishing and revitalising the health of the estuary between Maketu and Pukehina. Read more >

$1m upgrade for polluted Bay of Plenty estuary

The trust said in a statement that unimpeded farm development and intensification of land use over time has led to the estuary's gradual decline. It's now considered one of the five most polluted estuaries in New Zealand. Find out more >

The Waihī Estuary clean-up group says working with farmers is vital

Wai Kōkopu, a group made up of tangata whenua, landowners and environmental groups with funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is working to replenish Te Waihī estuary which is known as one of the most polluted in the country. See more from our latest planting day.